Conductor wins chance of a lifetime

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Young Kiwi offered one of two places in prestigious Royal Academy of Music.

Raymond Chan says the secret to being a good conductor is listening.
Raymond Chan says the secret to being a good conductor is listening.

A young New Zealander has become one of only two students in the world to be accepted into a prestigious conducting programme at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Raymond Chan, 23, beat about 30 international candidates who auditioned for a spot on the school's postgraduate conducting programme.

Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Auckland, is a former student of Macleans College. After high school, he received a scholarship to study piano performance at a university in Singapore.

There he was also given the chance to train as an orchestral conductor.

He was so good he was asked to perform at a number of festivals around Europe.

This year he was invited to the live auditions for the Royal Academy course.

"I couldn't believe it. I was stoked. I spent the entire summer preparing for it."

The auditions - which included around 30 people from all over the globe - went over three days and six stages.

"After the first day, we thought they'd cut it down to maybe 10 people. But a woman came out and read six names and that was it, the rest had to go home.

"I was the fifth name called out, and I just thought: 'Phew'!"

He was later told in an email that he was one of two people chosen to take part in the course, starting this September. The other successful student is a young man of similar age, Chan said, from Boston.

Asked what he thought helped make him a good conductor, he said he had one secret - listening.

"I think I'm good at listening; not just at what's happening in the music, but also listening to people who have been in the industry for a long time and are offering you advice. You need to enjoy [the performance] as well.

"As conductors, we influence the orchestra with little moves in our hands. If you're stressed, then the music is going to sound tense and it's not going to be a good night," he said.

"Other than that, I always have dark chocolate and a banana before going on stage - like a good luck thing."

Chan is planning to hold a number of shows to help raise money towards his fees, as well as living costs, which will cost up to $60,000.

Raymond Chan

• Aged 23.
• Born in Hong Kong, grew up in Auckland.
• Former Macleans College student.
• Studied piano performance and orchestral conducting in Singapore.
• Has won place in conducting programme at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

On the web
www.raychans.com

- NZ Herald

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